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Search tags: Part-of-a-Series
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review 2018-03-30 02:36
Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2) (Audiobook)
Shelter the Sea - Heidi Cullinan

I was worried at first when I realized this book was going to get political. Not because of the focus of the politics - America's dismal record with mental health illness - but because the last time Ms. Cullinan went political with her story Enjoy the Dance she forgot she was writing a story. The characters took a back seat to the politics, and the story suffered for it. I'm glad to say that was not the case here. She remembered to tell an engaging story this time, she kept Emmett and Jeremey front and center, and we got to see how their relationship continued to progress.

 

It's been a couple of years since the end of Carry the Ocean, and Emmett and Jeremey are still living in the Roosevelt. Emmett's working now and doing well. Jeremey however is still struggling with his anxiety and depression and has entered a dark period that he tries to hide from Emmett. Emmett wants to help him and also wants to take their relationship to the next level. On top of that, the Roosevelt is facing funding problems, that exacerbates everything and highlights how easily law makers overlook the mental ill and physically limited when it suits them. 

 

Emmett though doesn't give up easily. He and the other Roosevelt Blues Brothers come up with a plan to try to defeat the legislation to privatize mental health care and along the way he figures out how to help Jeremey too. It was great to spend time with these characters again, and to see David and Darren again. We meet some great new characters, and Mai is especially a sweetie. 

 

Iggy Toma was, as always, perfect. He's four for four in the audiobooks I've listened to so far. He really brings Emmett and Jeremey and the rest of the characters to life, and lets their humanity shine through. 

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review 2018-03-25 05:56
Honestly, Ben (Openly Straight #2) (Audiobook)
Honestly Ben - Bill Konigsberg

I liked so much about this book. I liked Ben in the first book and was happy to get his POV and get to know him more intimately. He's an introvert, and has a lot of hang ups because of his fun sucker dad who is king of repression. This book really focuses on why Ben feels the need to please everyone and why he's got so many issues speaking up and taking a stand for what he believes in - or even just figuring out what those beliefs are. So all of that was good, and while some things were left open ended, it didn't feel like a cliffhanger.

 

What I didn't like as much was Ben going GFY for Rafe. I can't even really say that this improves on the GFY trope since there is extensive talk about bisexuality, but Ben is very adamant about not being bi, which would be fine if that was all that was going on here. People are free to pick their own labels. But Rafe makes jokes several times about bi just being a transition phase to gay. Even though he says at one point that he doesn't really believe that, he still mentions it again several times, and Ben's understanding of bisexuality is rather lacking as well since it doesn't address those who would fall under the twos or fives under the Kinsey scale. So yeah, still not good bi representation, and Rafe came across as kind of a jerk when he couldn't give Ben the space and time he needed to figure things out on his own.

 

I can't speak one way or another if Toby being gender fluid was handled well or not. It's not a concept I understand much at all, and I can't say that this helped educate me in any way. I guess I don't see how wearing makeup and skirts can make a male character female. Because I never wear makeup or skirts, but I'm still a woman. I don't do anything particularly feminine at all but that doesn't make me not female. So gender fluidity doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, sorry. I understand wanting to buck gender *roles* but I don't think that's quite what gender fluidity is about, but perhaps I'm wrong. I admit complete ignorance about this concept, but I'm more than open to learning or trying to learn. I did try looking for reviews on GR, hoping to find some written by gender fluid reviewers talking about that aspect, but I didn't find much of anything.

 

Oh, and there's a throwaway line by someone else saying they think Albie is ace. That's not ace representation, sorry. Zero points for that.

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review 2018-03-20 03:12
Openly, Honestly (Openly Straight #1.5)
Openly, Honestly - Bill Konigsberg

Cute little post-holiday holiday short story. It doesn't really add anything to the series as a whole, but it was fun to spend a little time with Claire Olivia as she tries to cheer up Rafe, and we get to meet Ben's family which was nice.

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review 2018-03-19 04:01
Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt #1) (Audiobook)
Carry the Ocean - Heidi Cullinan

This was amazing and I'm kicking myself for taking so long to get to it. Except by waiting, I got to listen to Iggy Toma's brilliant narration which made the book that much more special. He really studied and got lots of advice from people with autism on how to portray Emmitt and it really shows. He voices Emmitt and Jeremey perfectly. Toma and Cullinan are proving to be a match made in audiobook heaven.

 

Emmitt has autism and Jeremy has major depressive disorder with extreme anxiety disorder. This isn't a book about "love cures all" because there are no cures. Instead, this is a book that respects both the struggles and the accomplishments of these two amazing young men, and how they have learned to manage the world around them and navigate a new relationship with each other at the same time. They're oddly perfect for each other, because Emmitt is calm and controlled when Jeremey is not, and Jeremey can understand the emotions that Emmitt has a hard time expressing. But their disabilities can also aggravate each other as well, so they have to learn how to talk to each other and when to give each other space. 

 

I really liked Emmitt's family. His parents and aunt were a great support system for Emmitt and later for Jeremey. Jeremey's family were not understanding about his issues at all, but they're allowed their time to be humanized as well. They're not bad parents because they don't love their son. It's clear they want the best for him. But they're misinformed, sometimes purposely so, but there's more to it than just that.

 

Then there's Derek, who we meet later in the book and really shines instantly as a great friend to Jeremey, even if he's something of a foil for Emmitt, at least at first. 

 

I can tell that an amazing amount of research went into this book, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

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review 2018-03-08 04:06
Pure Bred (Shelter #4)
Pure Bred: Book Four of the Shelter Series - Kate Sherwood

This series has been kind of a mixed bag. I really liked that the focus was on those living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet, and that it was more people of color than your average M/M. However, I also felt that too often the couple got together way too quickly. That happens again here, with Trey and Seb. Trey's been kind of a mystery for the series since he's been mostly on the fringes of the other books. Seb is completely new. He's supposedly a law student but not particularly well-spoken in tense situations. Hopefully, he stays away from trial law. ;)

 

Mostly, I liked Seb and how he was able to self-assess and realize how easy his life has been once he has his eyes opened by Trey and the others. Seb grew up in a well-to-do family, with supportive parents and sister, a cousin who's also his best friend, and never having to worry about where his next meal will come from. He took it all for granted until he realizes how much harder life is without any of that stuff. And then he stands by his newfound convictions despite everyone else being worried about his safety and future.

 

What was kind of weird was the extremely weak sauce D/s dynamic between Seb and Trey. On the one hand, I extremely dislike D/s so I was glad that it wasn't a big part of the story and that it was pretty mild, because the little bit that was there left me cold. On the other hand, I'm not sure why it was there at all. There was already a lot going on to examine power dynamics with the class difference between Seb and Trey, so adding this wasn't really needed. So yeah, weird.

 

The conflict between Seb and Trey was predictable as hell and was resolved rather predictably also. But I liked that the main conflict that carried over from the previous book was handled realistically in terms of the fallout for the neighborhood. And the epilogue from Dodger's POV was cute!

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